While the easing of pandemic restrictions may have softened the business climate only slightly for many businesses, one Alberta-based retailer is preparing to scale aggressively in 2022 and beyond through technology and a stronger customer focus.
“We’re fortunate to have a good grasp on our strengths and weaknesses,” said Shaun Guthrie, Senior Vice President IT, Peavey Industries LP. “Many companies have had a rough ride recently, and we’ve had our challenges; but we’re in growth mode right now — working to expand our operations further across Canada.”
Peavey Industries, an umbrella company comprising such brands as Peavey Mart and the newly acquired Ace Canada brand and operations, has a mix of corporate and dealer stores, mostly in Western Canada. Although their current ecommerce offering is a “buy online and pick up” operation, Peavey is working to reinvent itself.
“We want to ship directly to our customers,” said Guthrie. “We feel direct is best when it comes to the customer experience, and that’s one way we plan to get to ‘chapter two’ of our story.”
Data, integration, and what’s happening on the back end will be important keys going forward. Guthrie said a new system, along with a strong integration strategy, will allow it to pick best-of-breed applications in ecommerce, order management, warehouse management, and inventory management.
“Our goal is to offer an exceptional front-facing experience. With our back end in order, and all pieces smoothly integrated, we’ll be able to achieve this.”
Supply Chain and Automation
Peavy’s SVP of Supply Chain, Jeff Crump, agrees with Guthrie that automation and the supply chain are critical pieces going forward.
“Managing inventory through a disciplined supply chain process is a big key for us,” said Crump. “A supply chain solution that optimizes inventory health is top priority. Efficiency through the supply chain means we always have the right quantities in the right place at the right time. The end result is: improved sales and a top-grade customer experience.”
Looking to Invest
Crump said while Peavey manages inventory with a well-known merchandise management system across their supply chain network, they’re always on the lookout for technologies that can enable them to do even better.
“We’re looking at new technologies that will aid us in driving incremental productivity across our network. Future enhancements could include investments in automating supply chain operations and accessing enhanced analytics.”
“Understanding where inventory is, across our network and in our supplier networks, in real time, will allow us to reduce inventory outages and get products to customers more efficiently.”
Crump said by driving to a more integrated supply chain in an omni-channel product delivery environment, the company can improve lead times to customers and reduce inventory costs. He said finding technology solutions with improved AI that can help anticipate demand trends and improve predictive analysis are also on Peavey’s radar.
Micro and Macro
Guthrie called the customer experience a “top to bottom” challenge, running from the brick-and-mortar store to online.
“We have a massive opportunity right now to delight our customers at every stage of their experience with us. One way we can do that is by ensuring products are on shelves even when the supply chain is shaky.”
But Guthrie was clear that a standout customer experience begins and ends with knowing — truly knowing — your customer.
“We have ecommerce kiosks in stores, but that’s dated technology. What we want to do is zero in on that farmer/rancher persona. We could go the ‘micro’ angle and develop an app; but there is more value in stepping back and taking a hard look at how we can improve our customer experience everywhere. This is transformation done right, involving people, processes and technology — the ‘macro’ of considering all angles.”
What’s in Store
Guthrie is proud of a company that has thrived despite the disruption of the pandemic.
“Our ‘second chapter’ will require that we build up an even stronger foundation for future growth. We’re like an airplane that is retooling on the fly. We’re flying into open skies, but we have a lot of work to do, from revisiting ERP, CRM and the call centre to re-evaluating our tech stack from font to back.”
Crump agrees that the future looks bright. “Peavey is very optimistic as it emerges from the pandemic,” he said. “This global disruption has taught us a great deal, and we’ll be emerging from the pandemic ‘era’ more focused than ever on how we can better serve our customers and integrate with our partner vendors. Innovation when it comes to inventory and supply chain will only help us drive this improved customer experience.”
Guthrie stressed the importance of level-headedness in times of change. While there’s always the temptation at a time of rapid technological advancement to move quickly, adding one innovation after another, he said Peavey’s approach, while not as sexy as that of other organizations, will help it thrive in 2022 and beyond.
“I think as we look back in a few years we’ll be glad we put the effort into doing it right by making sure our foundation for future growth was sound.”